New Zealand still top rankings as Wales slip
Beaten but on top ... All Blacks captain Richie McCaw with coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand remained top of the International Rugby Board's rankings ahead of Monday's pool draw for the 2015 World Cup in England despite ending this year with a stunning 38-21 defeat by England.
Saturday's Twickenham trouncing was not enough to knock the reigning world champions off the summit and nor was it sufficient for fifth-placed England to break into the top four of the standings.
Meanwhile, Wales's 14-12 loss to Australia in Cardiff dropped them into ninth place and the third tier of seeds.
This could potentially hamper the chances of Wales, semi-finalists at last year's World Cup in New Zealand, reaching the knockout stages in three years' time as they will now face two currently higher-ranked sides in their pool, with only two going through to the quarter-finals.
Wales had to beat Australia on Saturday to avoid slipping from seventh place and they were on course for that victory at 12-9 ahead until Kurtley Beale's try with just 20 seconds left on the clock at the Millennium Stadium rescued a 14-12 win for the Wallabies.
Defeat dropped Wales below Samoa and Argentina in the IRB standings.
World Cup pool draw bands
Band 1: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
Band 2: England, Ireland, Samoa, Argentina
Band 3: Wales, Italy, Tonga, Scotland
Leading IRB rankings after Saturday's matches (position, country, ranking points):
01 New Zealand 90.08
02 South Africa 86.94
03 Australia 86.87
04 France 85.07
05 England 83.90
06 Ireland 80.22
07 Samoa 78.71
08 Argentina 78.71
09 Wales 78.39
10 Italy 76.24
11 Tonga 76.10
12 Scotland 75.83